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The Day After

Just some scattered thoughts that I’ve managed to string into sentences following last night’s season ending defeat:

1. After the building had cleared out, the ice was cleaned, and the team came out together in uniform for one last skate together as a group. Many players from this team will not be back next season, and that’s the dark side of Junior A hockey – a particular group of players usually only has one year together to try and accomplish something great. As much as I’d like to sit here like an NHL scribe and wax on about Esposito, Plevy, Zielonka getting one more year together, the D-core continuing to grow as a seven-man unit, and the steady goaltending of Mitch Gillam – the bedrock for everything this year – I can’t. And that’s tough. That’s junior hockey. Next man up. The Chiefs’ coaches and scouting staff have work in front of them this summer, but I have no doubt that they’ll ice a very competitive team for you again next season.

2. It was bittersweet for me to thank the guys that I had covered for two seasons – since I had arrived in Chilliwack – Mitch Gillam, Trevor Hills, Alexandre Perron-Fontaine, David Thompson, and Josh Hansen – These guys had arrived when I did. Difficult to see that group especially, play their last games in a Chief uniform.

3. For a guy with a broken ankle, Tanner Cochrane was in pretty good (painkillers) spirits on Monday night after the game. He’ll be re-evaluated, and should make a full recovery. Unfortunate to see him go down in the first period like that on Monday night. Good guy.

4. People have brought up the officiating from Monday to me. In my position, I’ve always thought it’s tacky to rip officials. Especially now that the Chiefs have lost, and the season’s over. I’ll say this though – The gentlemen in charge of officiating Monday night’s game 3 – They had a tough day at the office. No different from you or me.

5. Harvey Smyl reiterated this before game 3, and I belive it – This defeat wasn’t due to a lack of effort. You could see the desire, the try from the Chiefs in this series. It was clear. Surrey was just a little bit better. That overtime Monday night showed a lot. I think Chilliwack went into that OT hoping they would win. The Eagles? They knew they would. You could also see that. I like Surrey over whatever emerges from the Island in the Coastal Final. Congratulations, and hats off to them on a great series. That’s a good team over there.

6. I still can’t believe the league all thought that this playoff format on the Coastal side would be a good idea, with the Interior teams just sitting back and clipping their toenails for eight days waiting for the conference final to get started. In fact, it’s so popular, that they’re changing it again for next season with Wenatchee entering the fray in the Mainland Division! Yay! Continuity and competitive balance for everyone!

(Chilliwack may not have been worn out physically due to this nutty format, but they were tired mentally. It cost them in game one, and they never really recovered. They don’t get enough credit for winning Game 5 of that Prince George series after spending all night on a bus. That was incredible. This format, though. What a joke. Ask me how I really feel.)

7. This concludes my first season with a blog to worry about. Thank you to everyone who reads this thing – It’s a tremendous feeling to know that I don’t write it for my health. Thank you to everyone who tuned in during the year on 89.5 The Hawk to hear Cam and myself – We all know you listen intently as well. Soupy gets an inordinate amount of in-game texts. Thank you to the office staff with the Chiefs – Glen Ringdal, Barry Douglas, Andrea Laycock, JB, Moray Keith, Jim Bond, the Hasselmans – for allowing and trusting me to do what I do – the best part of my gig here in Chilliwack.

8. Thank you to the fans – There are a lot of you. More on average, in fact, than any team in the BCHL. You should be proud of that, and your contributions make my job feel just a little bit more significant.

9. Thank you again to Cam Campbell. The only colour man I need in this City. He provides a ton of colour, too. On the mic and off. One of a kind.

10. Thank you to the coaching staff, and the trainers – Harvey Smyl, Doug Ast, Brandon Fleenor, Rob Bruni, Paul Nicholls, Cam Janzen, Jason Denham, Colten Mawhinney – During the season, I see these eight more than I do my own family. Thank you fellas for making me feel like a part of the family from day one. It’s highly unlikely I could find a better crew somewhere else.

11. Special thanks to Harvey, Doug, and Brandon – for answering re-worded versions of the same questions before and after every game. You could all go John Tortorella on me, and you never do. Makes my job so easy.

12. To the players – I got to all of you last night, but I’ll say it again – Calling your games is fun because you guys make it that way. What a blast. Thank you.

There will be plenty of news throughout the summer surrounding the team, i’m sure. I’ll do my best to keep you updated as the days pass.

Until then, thanks for staying with me, and enjoy the off-season.


Categories: Chiefs Hockey
  1. Janet and Beny Masella
    March 26, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks for everything, Mr. Fitzgerald. The work you and Mr. Campbell did for every game made the country shrink and helped my wife and I feel we were there watching the Chiefs live — even when we were sitting in our den in Montreal West.

    Because we didn’t miss any games (more than a handful live in BC, the rest via your radio and internet broadcasts), we’re qualified to say, without reserve, that you guys are the class of the league. And please let me include the work of the video guys — no other broadcast from any other arena came close.

    We’re going to miss your broadcasts. Continued good luck to you both. And continued good luck to the Chiefs. The team, the billet families and the whole city of Chilliwack made a couple of Montrealers feel a part of the magic.

    Best regards…

    • March 27, 2013 at 2:27 am

      Thank you for saying so. It’s great to know people are listening- even from the other side of the country. Much appreciated!

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